Cyclamen mite is a pest of economic importance in strawberry production. Issues with cyclamen mite are not common but can cause significant loss of yield to strawberry plantings.
Cyclamen mites can also cause damage to several other crops including pepper, tomato, and some ornamentals. This species is particularly difficult to control as they harbor in the crown of the plant making adequate spray coverage challenging.
Description and Life Cycle
Cyclamen mites develop from egg to adult in 8 – 20 days. High humidity, 70% - 90%, and moderate temperatures, 60 – 80 F, speed up development however temperatures over 95 F can cause mite and egg death. Eggs are elliptical, opaque, and smooth, larvae are also opaque. Adults are small (about .2mm long), and translucent, or orangepink tinted. Females lay about 2 -3 eggs per day and can lay about 90 during their life. Adult females overwinter in the strawberry crown or in other plant material on field perimeter.
Cyclamen mites live within unexpanded leaves and buds in the crown of the strawberry plant. Feeding causes crinkled or crumpled leaves as well as stunted plants. Due to their small size and slow movement in fields, infestations are often not noticed until symptoms occur when populations on plants are high.
With the loss of Thiodan (Endosulfan), chemical control of cyclamen must now be focused on preventative action. Growers with previous exposure to cyclamen must take care to avoid repeated infestations. Prevention starts with good sanitation, clean plants, and well-timed spray applications, as to prevent damage to predators. Biological controls are available and continue to be tested but have not been proven to be an effective control method.
As cyclamen overwinters in plant material rather than in soil, keep field and perimeter free of weeds. Due to their small size and winglessness, these mites often spread by wind, bees and other flying insects, irrigation, and by contact with workers or equipment but will also crawl from plant to plant if the leaves are touching.
Chemical control options for cyclamen mite should be discussed with local extension agents. Some products may include Agri-Mek, Diazinon, Oberon, Portal, and Zeal. Pesticide treatments should be limited as much as possible to reduce potential damage to predators as this can cause cyclamen populations to rise.
Miticide treatments require high volume applications (200 – 400 gallons per acre) to adequately soak immature leaves and buds deep in the crown. Hot spots can be treated early with a hand sprayer to prevent spraying entire fields. A surfactant should be added to increase translaminar movement.
Application timing is also a key factor in cyclamen control. Key times for applications are before the canopy closes as they provide the best penetration and leaves can act as a funnel, directing miticides to the crown. During the planting year, applications should be made 5 – 6 weeks after planting (before the first runners emerge) and in the fall prior to straw being applied. Fruiting year applications should be made at leaf emergence and at renovation when leaf growth is minimal, and crowns are well exposed.